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Full text of "My Country And My People"

336          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

nationalism. The highest officials of the Government alternate
between initiating lama prayers for the salvation of the country
and suppressing the traditional boatrace of the Dragon Festival
by branding it as a superstition. The provincial governments,
who find it so difficult to make any real achievements in recon-
struction, find themselves very busy regulating the costumes
of men and women, for the girls' sleeves are too short in
Kwangsi, and the men's gowns are too long in Szechuen
("because in this period of national crisis, we must save more
cloth"), and the women's hair should not be curled in Shan-
tung, and the boys' heads must be shaved close in certain
schools in Hunan, and the girls* breasts should not be bound in
Chekiang, and high-collared dress and high-heeled shoes
should not be worn by the prostitutes in Nanking, and women
should not keep male dogs and lead them through the streets
in Peiping.1

All this confusion, this busy triviality, this madness and
hypocrisy, and these exaggerations of pride and solicitude seem
to indicate the existence of a wish unfulfilled, and a conflict
of will and character. Custom and convention, which are the
mainstay of any society, are no longer held in honour; the old
can no longer command the respect of the young, and the
young grow over-critical of the old; a deep chasm exists between
the growing generation and mature age. Culture, which is
the fruit of a continuity of life and thought, is no longer
possible, and criticism, which is the sole guardian of modern
culture, and which should keep a watchful eye over the flux
of life, lies prostrate before a task too big for itself, while cheer-
ful, robust good sense, for which China was so distinguished,
buries its head in shame, Man has something undernourished
and neurasthenic, something partial and incomplete and
eternally frustrated about him.

III. A QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP

Whoa. I ponder over ail this confusion, this meanness and
insincerity* I fed like Gabriel asking Lot: Where are the good

i See the various 1933 numbers of the Anoints Fortnightly.